They're Still Going. Wonkagenda For Mon., July 22, 2019

Morning Wonketariat! Here's some of the things we may be talking about today.

Mike Pence tried to talk to CBS about space stuff, but instead he was squirming under the lights and giving uncomfortable non-answers about Trump and the sycophants chanting racist stuff at Trump rallies. After Major Garret pressed Pence to stop dodging the question, Pence reluctantly said, "The president was very clear that he wasn't happy about it. And that if it happened again he — he might — he might make an effort to speak out about it." Pence then called the four progressive women of color known as "The Squad" a bunch of anti-Semites who hate Jesus and said he was "glad" Trump shouted the distraction. [Transcript / Video / The Takeout]

In her own appearance on Face the Nation, Wyoming Republican Rep. Liz Cheney spoke in circles about Trump's racist tirades, refusing to admit that Trump's words roll around in hatespeech like a pig in shit by arguing Trump telling "The Squad" to "go back" to where they came from was a statement about policy, and that "the news media really wants to make this about race." Cheney insisted Trump's statements weren't about race, gender, or religion before calling Rep. Ilhan Omar an anti-Semitic socialist who wants to take away fossil fuel free-dumbs. [Transcript]

White House policy scumbag Stephen Miller scuttled out from the basement to whitewash Trump's white supremacy on Fox News, but Chris Wallace was having none of it. Miller whined that bleeding hearts were calling Trump a racist to "silence and punish and suppress people they disagree with," then cried about censorship, and all the shitty low-wage gigs Trump World is graciously giving black and brown people. When Wallace played clips of Trump saying racist garbage and showed him old Trump tweets saying Obama was a Kenyan Muslim destroying #Murica with terrorist-sympathizing socialism, Miller responded with shameless gaslighting and whataboutism, said Trump was full of sads his audience chanted "Send her home" during one of his Nuremburg rallies, and that this was about #Merica, patriotism, flyover country, and $1 bacon double cheeseburgers with Super Sized fries.

Maryland Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings told George Stephanopoulos that Trump's shitposting and screaming sounds a lot like the racist stuff that white people shouted at him as a child in 1962. "The interesting thing," Cummings said, "Is that I head the same chants. 'Go home. You don't belong here ... They Called us the N-Word over and over again." Cummings added that he had "no doubt" Trump is a racist, noting, "When Trump does these things, it brings up the same feelings that I had over 50 some years ago, and it's very, very painful." [Video / Transcript]

The New Yorker's Osita Nwanevu has a brilliant piece on the National Conservatism Conference that happened last week. Throughout talks by silver tongued bullshit artists like Tucker Carlson, and two-faced jackasses like Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley, super-Trump conservatives bitched about "élite cosmopolitanism" ruining #Merica with gender pronouns and the "shithole countries" invading #Merica with their taco trucks. You should read this if you want to understand how wealthy white conservatives are attempting to rationalize their own racism.

Some respectable nerd has a thought provoking op-ed about how Democrats in the Senate can use an arcane form of dissent to get Trump's racist shitposting into the congressional record: the dreaded round robin! *Cue dramatic music*

The second highest ranking Pentagon policy official, David Trachtenberg, resigned Friday. A Russia hawk, Trachtenberg's resignation leaves yet another major hole in leadership at the Pentagon that includes the heads of the of the Army and the Air Force, the Joint Chiefs Chairman, the deputy secretary of defense, the deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, and potentially the comptroller, and undersecretary of the Army. Congress is expected to churn through the confirmations of what few nominees the administration has put forward later this week.

The administration has decided to give taxpayer-funded family planning clinics a temporary reprieve to comply with new rules that say they can't refer women for abortions. The AP reports someone at the Department of Health and Human Services sent out a memo on Saturday night saying Uncle Sam "does not intend to bring enforcement actions" on any clinics making "good-faith efforts to comply." The new rules governing Title X restrict who can actually talk to pregnant women about abortions, and make counseling about abortions optional instead of a standard practice.

Congress is dragging Robert Mueller up to The Hill later this week, and there's number of stories about what the hell is happening. This weekend, House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler told Chris Wallace that he hopes the hearings won't be "a dud," and that Democrats will ask very specific questions to try and get Mueller to say whether Trump committed obstruction of justice. House Republicans say they'll try to derail the whole thing by screaming about witch hunts and HER EMAILS, but Politico reports that Mueller has been practicing with a legislative sherpa who's well versed in how to dodge traps from backbench bomb throwers.

People inside the Commerce Department say that the agency is "rudderless" under the leadership of Wilbur Ross, and that the sleepy old bastard is causing career civil servants to bail out of the "disaster." Commerce officials are disputing reports from former outside advisors who say, "Because he tends to fall asleep in meetings, they try not to put him in a position where that could happen so they're very careful and conscious about how they schedule certain meetings. ... There's a small window where he's able to focus and pay attention and not fall asleep."

The Washington Post is reporting that the White House and Congress are still trying to hammer out a spending deal that raises the debt limit before members of Congress head out for the August recess. According to WaPo, the deal will not have any real spending cuts, and will reset spending levels for the next two years. Negotiators are currently hung up on the White House demanding the ability to funnel money through different agencies, and it's coy as to WHY it wants this power (*cough* The Wall *cough*). The whole thing still needs Trump's signature, which is anything but certain.

IF Democrats retake the Senate in 2020, there's a debate about what to do to unfuck the judiciary branch. Do they continue brutally murdering the storied traditions like Mitch McConnell, or do they do Not That?

A SLEW of new polls this weekend show Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders losing ground to Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary. There's about half a dozen polls from early primary states and I'm not even going to bother breaking them all down 'cause we'd be here forever!

The Illinois GOP is SUPER sad the state party posted a racist meme of "The Squad" that called them Islamic terrorists. The post has since been deleted, and last night the state party president issued a semi-apology if "anyone who saw the image was offended," adding that the image was "an unfortunate distraction" from their regularly scheduled anti-communist shitposting.

Puerto Rico's governor says he won't run for reelection next year, but protesters are having none of it. Puerto Ricans are continuing to demand Gov. Ricardo Rosselló resign, and are preparing for one of the largest protests in the island's history.

SOMEBODY hacked a contractor working for Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), making off with about 7.5 terabytes of data (that's a lot). Most of what was stolen isn't anything "new," but it does embarrass the shit out of them since it shows what the FSB is up to.

The wheels are coming off Rudy Giuliani's Ukranium One scam, according to a long and twisted tale from Buzzfeed. The gist is that two Russian-loving Ukrainian grifters were trying to boost their natural gas business by helping Rudy flog his bogus stories about Hillary Clinton setting up Paul Manafort and Joe Biden interfering in Ukraine to benefit his son, but two numbskulls got in over their heads with some shifty campaign finance donations. The two flirted with GOP party leaders and got real cozy inside Trump World -- but then yadda, yadda, yadda, their party lost the Ukranian elections and now everything has gone tits up.

Russian state media outlets are trying to obscure the facts in a story about Italian neo-Nazis caught with air-to-air missiles earlier this month. Rather than discuss the links between Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine and a neo-Nazi group, both Russian state media and Italy's interior minister, Matteo Salvini, are instead talking up a convoluted story about the group attempting to assassinate Salvini.

Iran seized a British oil tanker over the weekend. Video footage was released showing Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps troops jumping out of an old Soviet helicopter. The Wall Street Journal reports oil prices have spiked, though some bean counters don't think that's a good gauge with which to measure tension in the Middle East.

Twitter suspended several Iranian state media accounts for shitposting and trolling people of the Baha'i faith, a religious minority. In an ironic twist, Al Jazeera notes Twitter is banned in Iran, yet many state officials maintain Twitter accounts via nerd magic.

ICYMI: One year after all the hubbub from Foxconn, the administration, and then-Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, cheeseheads are wondering where the fuck their magical factory is. The state's new Democratic Governor Tony Evers says the practically non-existent factory will only create about 1,500 jobs -- way less than the 13,000 that were promised, and still short of the 1,800 Foxconn needs to get its sweet taxpayer-funded kickback -- but The Verge has found the company has only hired 156 employees. Foxconn says they're going to make something for their laughable "A.I. 8k+5G ecosystem." Meanwhile, area residents tell NBC News the whole thing is giant scam.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk wants to stick a USB-C port in your brain that can talk to an A.I., drive your electric car, and power robot arms. Business nerds are cumming all over their crusty and ill-fitting suits at the moneymaking potential for transhumanism, but sci-fi geeks are cautioning against jacking their skulls full of William Gibson microsoft as it will inevitably turn it into another medium for porn and spam.

Equifax will get off with ONLY a $700 million fine from the FTC to settle their 2017 security breach that leaked information of 147 million Americans. Equifax negligently ignored basic security advice, resulting in the loss of Social Security numbers and credit card info on almost half the American public -- largest data breach in US history -- and will set aside $425 million to reimburse victims, offer 10 years of credit-monitoring services to victims, and pay $175 million to 48 state and the District of Columbia. Bottom Line: This is bullshit, and these assholes should be prison.

The New York Times has a retrospective of Trump's racism over the last 50 years. Sure, he loves black people, as long as they shuck and jive, or serve up a mean burnt ketchup steak. It's why he tried to have a "black vs white" season of his reality show -- because of the race riots ratings.

The Daily Beast has a good yarn about Trump's new favorite rightwing cable news channel. One America News Network (OANN) has "You're Hired" a Kremlin-connected propagandist from Russian state media channel Sputnik. Kristian Brunovich Rouz has written a bunch of bogus stories about how Hillary Clinton and George Soros are bankrolling antifa protesters and #TheResistance, but I'll be damned if I've gotten a nickel from anyone at our secret meetings inside the pizza parlor basement.

Chicago has sent its resident alligator, Chance the Snapper, to Florida where he belongs. In a social media post, St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park says it welcomed Chance with a banner, a pizza, and some classic Chicago tunes.

And here's your morning Nice Time: IT'S LIL BUB!

BUB Wakes Up for Yogurt

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Dominic Gwinn

Dominic is a broke journalist in Chicago. You can find him in a dirty bar talking to weirdos, or in a gutter taking photos.


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